WWE

WWE Raw Recap: Championship controversy heading into 2016 WWE Draft

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If you’re a wrestling fan, chances are you’re currently in a state of delirium because right now we’re in the middle of an incredible stretch of shows/news.

– A dream match between Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Balor on NXT this past Wednesday.

– The debut of the Cruiserweight Classic.

– Brock Lesnar popped by USADA on Friday for failing a drug test in late June.

– The announcement of the GMs for Raw and SmackDown.

– The beginning of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 tournament.

– A WWE title match between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose on Raw.

The 2016 WWE Draft on Tuesday’s SmackDown Live.

– The Battleground Pay-Per-View this Sunday.

What a time to be alive.

VInce

On top of the craziness, the WWE actually released some rules for the draft over the weekend:

Those are nice, but which two lucky humans were going to get “picked” by Stephanie and Shane to become the general managers of both Raw and SmackDown Live?

We didn’t have to wait long on Monday night to get an answer.

YES, YES

Late last week, rumors of Daniel Bryan becoming the GM for SmackDown surfaced on the Internet and sure enough those rumors became reality when Shane introduced Bryan in the opening segment.

Before the crowd went wild for Bryan, Stephanie introduced her general manager:

Foleygif

It wasn’t a surprise to see Foley announced as Raw’s GM, but it was a bit underwhelming IMO. With the ultimate babyface GM on SmackDown, it was surprising not to see another heel authority figure with Stephanie (HI ERIC BISCHOFF).

Despite creative’s best efforts to create a rivalry between Bryan and Foley, Mick just doesn’t feel like he’s going to be a permanent figure on Raw. His exit may have been foreshadowed when Shane told Foley that he needed to watch out during their backstage segment.

On a more positive note, it’s great to see Bryan back in the world of professional wrestling. When Bryan gave his emotional goodbye a few months ago, it was fair to wonder if we would ever see him again on WWE programming. He wasn’t ready to retire and openly discussed how painful it was to be around professional wrestling when he found out that he could no longer compete.

Now he’s back in a big way. His commentary work with Mauro Ranallo on the Cruiserweight Classic was wonderful and he’s going to excel in his role as the SmackDown GM.

skelator

Up in the Air

Raw signed off on Monday night with Rollins holding the WWE title on the ramp after Stephanie announced him the winner of the match, but the road to that moment was a bit off course to say the least.

The match itself between Rollins and Ambrose was solid and really picked up towards the end. The crowd really bought the near fall after Rollins hit the pedigree, but the actual finish of the match was so odd that I can’t even explain it, so just watch this clip:

I found the finish strange because it was clearly done to drive viewers to tonight’s SmackDown Live, but there’s a little thing called the draft that’s taking place. Fans are already going to tune in, so why did we need to have such a confusing finish? It just felt unnecessary.

It made sense that Stephanie would announce Seth as the winner because creative could create a situation where Steph comes out on Tuesday night, picks Seth first, but then the title is given back to Ambrose after Shane drafts The Dude to SmackDown.

Nope

Instead Ambrose was given the title back in a segment that was shot after the show that ended on the Network. For some reason, Mike Cole wasn’t given the instructions to drive people to the Network after Raw went off of the air, so if you didn’t have the livestream of the Network up at 11:06, you would have had no idea that Ambrose was given the title back.

The two will have a rematch for the title at the draft, which is perfectly justifiable, but the fact that the conclusion to the main event wasn’t shown on TV or promoted correctly is beyond ridiculous. Why not save the announcement for the beginning of SmackDown and then announce the rematch in the opening segment to create a hook for the end of the show?

Walking on the Sky With a Micsaber

Enzo Amore might very well be the best talker in the entire WWE right now, but his shtick had become a bit underwhelming. He has been constantly repeating lines that he used in NXT. I know that he needs to re-use some of these lines because there’s a good chunk of people who watch WWE, but don’t tune into NXT.

But man ‘Zo was on a stretch where he went from boneless chicken tenders, to ZERO DIMES, to 3.14 time to eat your pie. Amore’s greatest hits playlist was on repeat, but then he added a new track to it on Monday, which was much needed:

Cena playing dumb was a real waste. There was an opportunity there for the Dr. of Thuganomics to make his return and spit some lines about The Club, but alas it was not to be.

Match Results

Sami Zayn & Cesaro beat Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens after Zayn pinned Jericho with a small package.

Darren Young pinned Alberto Del Rio after The Miz tried to distract Young, but it backfired.

The Club & The Wyatts beat The New Day, John Cena, Enzo & Big Cass thanks to a Styles Clash to Enzo. The Clash always looks excellent when it’s hit on a smaller guy. This was the Match of the Night.

Baron Corbin pinned Sin Cara in two minutes after the End of Days.

Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch beat Dana Brooke & Charlotte by DQ after Natalya came down to the ring and attacked Becky. Dana and Charlotte laid out Sasha after the match.

Rusev & Sheamus defeated Zack Ryder and Sheamus when Rusev forced Ziggler to submit to The Accolade.

Seth Rollins was awarded the WWE title after a controversial finish with Dean Ambrose.

JLaw

Time to “Go Home”

– Stephanie just casually threw out a bombshell during the opening promo. The cruiserweight division is coming back and it’s going to be exclusively on Raw. Does this mean that the guys who have been signed from the CWC are coming up as opposed to going to NXT? (Besides Kota Ibushi, NXT needs him with the raid that’s about to take place.)

– Does the Golden Truth or The Ascension have a lower probability of being drafted during the SmackDown Live broadcast?

– Foley totally forgot one of his lines during the opening promo and had to ask Stephanie what he needed to say next.

– The standoff between Big Cass and Braun Stroman actually made me want to see that match.

– Until you remember how green Stroman is in the ring.

– I love how Anderson is getting his #hotasianwife over. The crowd responds every time he brings her up.

– Enzo’s shoe closet must be insane.

– There was a bit of tension teased between AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt during the 12-man tag. It was very subtle.

– Your weekly reminder that Kevin Owens steals every segment that he’s in:

– The Shield triple threat is obviously the highlight of Battleground, but I personally can’t wait to see Zayn vs. Owens. These two are likely going to get split up at the draft, so you would have to imagine that there will be an extra level of intensity during their brawl.

– Bayley has to be Sasha’s mystery partner right?

– The empty arena promo from Rollins was…interesting. It was a cool shot and felt different, which is always nice, but I found the setting to be distracting. It took away from the impact of Rollins’ promo.

– On the other hand, Ambrose’s camera promo was fantastic. I wish he would do more promos like this because it fits his character so well. I just hope the next time he cuts a promo like this a different filter is used because this one looked SO fake.

– How fake?

– Faker than Taylor Swift.

Twitter: @ScottDargis

WWE: How Alexa Bliss Found Her Voice

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Before Alexa Bliss defends her Raw Women’s Championship this Sunday at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Pay-Per-View (this Sunday live at 8 p.m. ET on WWE Network) I had the chance to talk with her about the process of developing the Alexa Bliss character, what it was like to have cameras around her house for “Total Divas” and of course, the world famous Larry-Steve

Me: “So what game did Larry-Steve pick for you to download on the [Nintendo] Switch?”

Alexa: “Mario! The Rabbit Kingdom. I was trying to find a game and all of a sudden Larry-Steve jumped on my lap and just started moving the Switch, so I was like I have to get this on video. He was doing it for a lot longer, but I only caught a couple seconds on video.”

@larry_steve_ helping me figure out which game to download next on my @nintendo #switch

A post shared by Alexa_Bliss (@alexa_bliss_wwe_) on

“Are you a big gamer, or did you see someone else with the Switch and said to yourself “I need one of those”?

“No, I love video games. So my fiancé and I went through this phase recently where we got all of the older gaming systems. We have this box that plays old Sega and Nintendo games. We have the original Playstation, recently just got a Game Boy. We have an Xbox a PS4 Pro and the Super Nintendo that just came out.”

“I got the Switch back in March and it’s a life-saver on my commute”

“Oh it’s the best. It seriously saves my life when it comes to traveling because I get so bored so easily, especially when a plane doesn’t have WiFi … ughhhh I die.”

“When you did an interview with ESPN a few months back you mentioned that you got Larry-Steve because of Total Divas, which made me wonder if getting a pig was something you’ve always wanted to do, or if this was a spur of the moment decision because of the show?”

“I’ve always wanted a pig. I grew up in Ohio, in Grove City, which is a farmy place. A lot of people there have farm animals and I’ve always wanted a pig because they’re super cute and I know they have a risk of getting up to 500 pounds, but whatever.

I actually pitched the storyline for Total Divas of me getting a pig and then my fiancé telling me that I can’t have it and then I’d have to give him back. You know, this whole drama thing.

So I get Larry-Steve and I have him for like two days and then I called Matt and said I’m not giving this pig back. I was like I can’t, he’s too cute and he’s deaf!

I was like he won’t hear the dogs barking at him. He was like what if he gets really big, I was like that’s 500 pounds of love. So I did the whole pouty thing and then he was like it’s your call, you make the decision. The whole I don’t want you to, so you probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to tell you that you can. And I totally took it as OK, I’m going to get him.

They get along so well. Matt loves him. He’s become the baby of the family. He knows it.

He’s like a child. He’s on a schedule. He wakes up every morning at 7. He sleeps in a Pack ‘n Play [crib]. He eats at 7:30. He naps at 2 and if you don’t put him in his crib to nap at 2, he will go lay by his bed. He wakes up, gets more food, will walk around the house, play for an hour to an hour and a half and then he’ll go back to bed.

“He sounds really easy to take care of”

“He’s so easy to take care of. As long as you can get his schedule down, because if not, he gets really grumpy.”

“Grumpy! How do you know that he’s grumpy?”

“Yeah because he’ll go “oink, oink, oink” all of the time and start pushing you. When he gets grumpy you know and then he’ll try to bite your toe, but that’s only if he’s grumpy.”

“Because [spoiler alert] Total Divas is a pseudo-reality, did you find yourself having to adjust to how you acted in front of the camera because you’re so used to playing a specific type of character in front of one?”

“I had a little bit of an adjustment period for sure because I’m so used to when the camera is on, I turn into Alexa Bliss, this mean, attitudy character. So I had to get out of that because our first filming was at TV. So I’m in a work environment and it was just a different camera, so as soon as the camera came on I was thinking ‘wait I can’t be that way, I have to be me.’

There were times where we’re at home making breakfast and there’s cameras there and I feel so weird because you have to open up to the cameras, but still act natural.

It was very different, but I had a lot of fun with it.”

*** Season 7 of Total Divas Premieres Wednesday, November 1 at 9 p.m. ET on E! ***

“You’ve talked about your transition from NXT to the main roster before and how you needed to turn up the persona that you found in NXT, but what helped you find the character’s voice? Was there a light bulb moment where you realized that this is it when you were with Blake and Murphy?

“I watched back our first few NXT matches together when I was managing them and realized that I was just silent. I wasn’t doing anything, I wasn’t saying anything. I was just looking at them in silence. And I was like hmmm, well that’s nothing.

I remember specifically trying more and more to be mean and I was trying to think of a character that’s relatable and I was like oh my gosh, a mean girl from high school. Everyone knows her. Everyone had one. Some people were her and no matter how mean she was, you still voted for her for homecoming queen.

I was like I want to be that girl because I knew that girl in high school. I knew a few of those girls in high school. I knew that everyone did. So that was my main motivation was to be that girl.

I get my inspiration from movies and a lot of the time I’ll actually people-watch when I’m at the airport. William Regal told us to people-watch because you can get your best motivation from them. I’ll notice little mannerisms that irritate me and I know they will irritate other people.

“How long did it take you to be comfortable in front of the camera as that character? Was it something you had to workshop a lot to get to that point?

“To get it started was a long process, but once it clicked, it was super easy. It’s just another part of me now and it’s been so much fun to play around with.”

“The saying is the best characters in this business are an extension of who the actual person is, but turned up to an 11, so is there any part of your actual personality in the character?”

“Oh god, none of it (laughs).”

“See that’s really interesting because you’re so comfortable playing the character, but it’s not you at all.”

“So I remember watching ‘My Date with Marilyn’ and watching the scene where she’s just super shy and super timid and then she asks somebody ‘do you want me to become her?’ And then she goes into Marilyn [Monroe]-mode and people start swarming her. She becomes this confident, sexy woman and I feel like it’s pretty much the same kind of thing. It’s something that you just switch into.

I’ve always wanted to do acting and wanted to explore that route and I feel like this has been the most fun part of doing what I get to do. Being able to transition into a completely different character.”

“So your match coming up with Mickie James this weekend; in another era this probably would have been a depends on a pole match …”

“(laughs)”

“But it’s just going to be a normal one-on-one match, even though in the build-up for it, you’ve been so aggressive in promos and backstage segments that it could have warranted a stipulation in storyline. Would you prefer a stipulation match, or are you OK with it being a regular match?”

“I’m OK with it being a normal one-on-one [match]. Of course stipulations are always cooler and more fun, but I feel like if we were to do a stipulation match it would have to be something that was driven towards the storyline that we’re doing right now.

I’m talking about her being old, so it should be like a walker match.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis

There’s a new playable character in WWE 2K18 and it’s … Colonel Sanders!?

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During the “Hell in a Cell” Pay-Per-View last night, it was announced that Colonel Sanders will be a playable character in the WWE 2K18 video game.

The announcement came during a segment in which the world was introduced to Colonel Angle Sanders who promptly took care of his rival, the Puppers Cluckers Chicken.

If you want to see an extended look of Colonel Sanders in WWE 2K18, you can watch him face off against Puppers Cluckers Chicken on UpUpDownDown this Thursday (October 12th).

WWE 2K18’s launch date is October 17th.